Strong military good for country, people: Armed Forces

Modernizing the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is a good investment for both the country and the people.

This was emphasized by AFP spokesperson Col. Edgard Arevalo in a press briefing in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City Monday.

“Modernizing the AFP is a wise investment for the taxpayers’ money. Although the campaign against (groups) that destroy the peace and prevent development of the country, like the local terrorist groups, including the New People’s Army (NPA) is successful, the AFP needs to update and enhance its capability to counter these threats — human-induced and natural calamities,” he said in Filipino.

Arevalo also said funds used to fight and contain the NPA and other local threat groups, in the past years, could have been used to modernize the AFP for it to be at par with its Southeast Asian counterparts and formidable against terrorist groups.

This was echoed by Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana when asked on whether the ongoing operations against various threat groups are slowing down efforts to modernize AFP.

“Of course, because money that could have been used for modernizing our troops are used to fight terror. For instance, (in) the five-month Marawi Siege, the AFP spent almost PHP4 billion (to fight and defeat the Maute Group terrorists), excluding the amount to care for the IDPs (internally displaced persons) by other agencies than ran into billions as well,” the DND chief added.

The fighting in Marawi City started May 23, 2017 when Maute-ISIS elements attacked the city, triggering a five-month battle which ended only in when military units neutralized Abu Sayyaf leader and ISIS Southeast Asia Emir, Isnilon Hapilon, along with 1,000 militants late October.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier gave the green-light for Horizon Two of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program, which is slated for 2018 to 2022 and estimated to cost at roughly PHP300 billion to implement.

Horizon One lasted from 2013 to 2017 and resulted in the acquisition of 12 FA-50PH light-lift interim fighters and two strategic sealift vessels, to name a few.

Equipment slated for acquisition during Horizon Two are towed and self-propelled howitzers, multiple launch rocket systems, armored recovery vehicles, five support vehicles, tactical radios, ground mobility equipment (light, medium, heavy), individual weapons, crew-served weapons, and night-fighting equipment for the Army; multi-role fighters, radar systems, light and medium lift aircraft, heavy lift helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles, helicopters (attack and combat utility), special mission and long-range patrol aircraft for the Air Force; frigates, corvettes, submarines, amphibious assault vehicles, anti-submarine helicopters, attack craft, medium lift helicopters and multi-role vessels for the Navy.

Also being eyed are combat engineer, force protection, explosive ordnance disposal, as well as humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief and medical equipment. PNA